“Alright, listen, the scenarios you run in here are like… great science fiction. They’re impressive and detailed and insightful but they’re not accurate for crap. Science fiction never has been. Look at 2001. Did we have a space odyssey? No. We got snowboarding in the Olympics and we over-validated Carson Daly.”
I wish I was writing something insightful and supportive about the charming delight that is Parks & Recreation and how it and Community interact with their television and Internet audiences in provocative ways. I wish I was writing something celebratory about the clever enthusiasm of those shows’ audiences and how they play and participate with those shows through animated GIFs and winking referential quotes. I wish I was writing something lively and fun that praised these things while hinting at something that neither of us had exactly thought out loud before about what makes these shows work.
I might title the piece “The Ballad of Ron Swanson.”
CATNIP FOR THE LADIES.
Most movies, most TV shows, most productions, are about The Moment. They’re about the death, the birth, the big game, the finish line, the culmination of a project, the first flight, the raising of the barn, the graduation, the triumph or tragedy that is the definition of an entire life. The music swells, the hero steps on stage, executes the perfect move, and we fade to black.
Treme, just like the Wire, just like that space show with the hot chick I like, just like most of the really good stuff I read, is about the day to day living. About not one moment but a hundred of them, crashing over you, a thousand tiny things: the contractor not showing up, the tools getting stolen, the paperwork lost, the hot water crapping out, playing in the airport, finding an old friend, the omelette getting burned.
It’s why this show snuck up on me, I think: it’s the sum total of what’s happening that makes up The Moment. And the sum total of someone’s character on the show isn’t how they act once, but how they act over and over and over again. It’s why Sonny sucks and LaDonna’s awesome: he keeps falling down and she keeps getting up. Not once, but a hundred times.
A lot of people are good at The Grand Gesture, in no small part because our entire pop culture is about that, about holding a boombox over your head in the early morning fog. They’re good at being the Hero. It’s being just the third guy from the left, in the day to day living, that will fuck them up every time.”